Wednesday 24 October 2012

Recipe for success?

Well what to do with the review sample FA2 which arrived on my workbench thanks to the benevolence of Idealo?

Memories of previous web discussion of railcars and a quick internet trawl came up with this beauty as inspiration. It's a Sentinel Camell steam railcar belonging to the railway system of Sri Lanka. It will therefore not look out of place with my collection of colonial narrow gauge models from the Indian sub-continent. Added to the Mehano FA2 chassis will be a pair of Ratio Midland Railway carriage sides and apair of ends from the Bachmann San Francisco cable car.

Will these unlikely bedfellows prove to be a recipe for success, or a congealed mess?

Friday 19 October 2012

The postman always rings twice

A double delivery of interesting packages arrived yesterday. I've mentioned previously that I have been invited by the price comparison site Idealo to review some of the model railway products it features in order to raise the profile of the site and service it offers.Though I don't get paid to review I do get to select and keep the samples. It was not having to hand back the items that guided my choice this time of the Italeri African House (more of this later) and a Mehano n gauge Alco FA2. First to arrive was postie with the Italeri kit followed a couple of hours later by the DHL courier. As both parcels were earlier than the estimated date I was already impressed.

Up for inspection first is the Mehano FA2, it comes simply but securely packaged in the sort of clear plastic box of the style that many Atlas, IHC and Rivarossi locos did in the seventies and eighties. I rather like that it's not a fantastically detailed delicate model with hundreds of fiddly bits to add on, and that it doesn't require a BSc in advanced packaging to get the thing out of the box in one piece. I've yet to be convinced that separate detail is what counts in n gauge, body shape and outline counts for more. Unfortunately this is where my skills as a reviewer run out as I'm not an expert on the prototype, all I can say is that it has the look of an Alco.

However it's not as an n gauge loco that I selected the model but as a running gear donor for a 009 narrow gauge project. I'm happy to say that despite its budget price the running quality is top drawer. Though it's not quite as whisper quiet as the Kato mechanisms that have been through my hands it's certainly not noisy. The slow running is excellent and the pick up from standstill gentle. I suspect that some of these qualities are down to the weight of the model, having body filling cast metal weights that screw to the plastic chassis spine. Though it seems possible to run without the weights, enabling a potentially greater choice of bodies to clothe the mechanism with, I shall be keeping it in heavyweight form.

Wednesday 10 October 2012


There's much of interest in old model railway magazines, even if like this example they are over fifty years old. Cyril L Fry, whose layout features on the cover and as the 'railway of the month' had incorporated smoke and sound effects into his engines, Sir Eric Hutchinson presented six drawings of pre-group wagons and Cyril Freezer has a layout design which wouldn't look too shabby alongside current best practice. 

However best of all are the reviews, which is where the gulf between now and then really shows. The new Triang diesel shunter and standard class 3 tank loco both come in for much praise which is then leavened by the sentences 'Our only criticism is that they do diverge dimensionally from their prototypes. Apart from this we have nothing but praise.'